Written by Arkansas Real Estate
With thousands of students graduating from college last weekend, and thousands more in our area graduating from high school this weekend - we want to extend our sincere congratulations. Degree completion is a significant milestone, and something that our area has a specific focus on increasing.
This week we met with Mike Harvey, Chief Operating Officer and Kim Davis, Director of Education and Workforce Development both with the Northwest Arkansas Council to discuss specific initiatives that they are focusing on to promote education in our area. The Northwest Arkansas Council is a private, nonprofit organization committed to sustaining and improving Northwest Arkansas as a great place to live and conduct business.
One of their four areas of supporting the community is through educational excellence, and though they do this through a number of ways, we felt it was fitting to highlight two of their major educational programs as we wrap up our series and celebrate commencement this week.
In 2011, the Council helped organize the first "Reach Out to Dropouts" program, which encourages high school students to return to the classroom.
The program was modeled after a collaborative partnership through the school districts of Houston, Texas and is focused on direct outreach to families and students who are at-risk for dropping out of secondary education. It was piloted three years ago in Siloam Springs, where it worked with educators to identify those students and begin extensive contact with them to reengage them in school. Whether it meant picking up the phone or knocking on doors, educators were prepared with the tools they needed to re-open communication and make it easy for students to get back to school. Programs were also implemented to work with local business owners to promote educationally-friendly businesses.
The program has now been extended to every school district in Northwest Arkansas, and some neat partnerships were created through the initiative including Razor COACH.
Razor COACH is a partnership between the NWA Council, the University of Arkansas, the Walton Family Foundation, and local school districts. 1.5 million dollars was invested into this program by the Walton Family Foundation in an effort to connect Masters-level college students to work with high school students in providing peer mentorship in helping them identify post-secondary education planning.
The mission of the Razor COACH program is to motivate and support NWA students in grades 10-12, in order to increase their knowledge of and access to career and educational opportunities beyond high school. Razor C.O.A.C.H. interventions are focused on facilitating development of pro-academic behaviors, increasing self-awareness, exploring career and/or college options, and establishing future goals. All interventions are aimed to increase graduation rates, increase post-secondary enrollment, and improve the quality of the NWA workforce.
Because of these efforts at the secondary education level we are seeing high school degree completion rates at their highest locally and higher than the rest of the state.
We are so proud of the many accomplishments of our students in Northwest Arkansas, and it is wonderful to know that programs are being implemented to keep growing the success of education in our area. Congratulations to those graduating this week! We are proud of you!
The NWA Council also works significantly on programs that focus on post-secondary degree completion. For more information about their initiatives, please visit their website here.